Ayurveda: How to Optimize Your Energy & Time
Ayurveda emphasizes the flow within the natural world, including within your own body and mind. Vata, Pitta and Kapha are energetic forces that change our energy throughout the day, and if you understand these forces, you can tune into the natural rhythms of the world, and make informed choices to help steer your life into healthful, harmonious directions.
The doshas are divided into 4-hour increments throughout the 24 hour day. Each 4-hour time period is dominated by one dosha. In other words, there’s a vata, pitta and kapha time of day and a vata, pitta and kapha time of night. We must learn what the qualities of each particular dosha is in order for us to find the right balance. Understanding this allows you to choose activities, food choices, that will support the dominant energy inside and around you at that time.
DAY: 6 AM - 10 AM KAPHA
Ayurveda teaches that it’s best to get up in the morning before 6 am because during this period, kapha becomes dominant. Kapha is the energy of water and earth; think of the qualities of mud: heavy and sluggish. If you awaken during kapha time, which is between 6 am and 10 am, these qualities will increase within you - and that might explain why you feel tired and need that cup of coffee every morning! It’s best to get up before 6:00 am, and engage in some early morning activity to get your heart pumping and your day off to an energetic start. Eat a light breakfast that is well spiced. Breakfast is NOT meant to be a big meal, as this will only increase heaviness and sluggishness.
DAY: 10 AM - 2 PM PITTA
Pitta is the dosha of heat, as it is made of fire and water. During this time of day, heat will naturally predominate in our bodies and minds. By harnessing this midday heat, this is the time to be productive and accomplish our goals. Lunch should actually be the biggest meal of the day; this is the time to indulge in a big meal, as you are best able to digest it at this time. Your digestive fire is being supported by the warmth of the natural world. However, it’s best to avoid spending time in the direct sun at this time of day, especially if you are predominantly pitta, since those with a pitta nature are likely to experience an increase of heat symptoms within the body at this time, including burning indigestion, skin rashes, or even flares of temper.
DAY: 2 PM - 6 PM VATA
Vata, which is made of the elements air and space (ether), governs the time of transition. This time of day allows for creativity and expansive thinking to peak, making it a great time to engage in creative pursuits and problem solving. However, it can also be a time when those of the dominant vata dosha may feel agitation or inability to focus, so choose a calm environment in which you can work while minimizing any bright lights and loud noises. Vata is the most delicate of the doshas, and the most likely to become imbalanced, as it is the dosha of movement. When balanced, Vata can help manifest your creative gifts.
NIGHT: 6 PM - 10 PM KAPHA
As we move towards night, the times ruled by the doshas repeat. Kapha's heavy qualities tell you it’s time to wind down. It is best to eat a light, early dinner and settle in for the night. By going to bed during the kapha time of day, the heavy quality of this time of day will help ensure that you drift off to sleep easily, naturally. During the last hour or two before bed (from about 8 pm to 10 pm), engage only in calming activities that nourish and soothe you. No distressing conversations, no violent tv shows - or this can interfere with sleep! Instead, take a warm bath, sip tea by the fire, listen to soothing music, enjoy light conversation with loved ones. Allow the natural kapha time of day ease you to sleep.
NIGHT: 10 PM - 2 AM PITTA
As 10 pm rolls around, hopefully you are in bed, sound asleep. Pitta rules activity, and during your sleep is no exception. It is important to be sleeping during this time, because the activity that now takes place is inside you; this is the time of internal cleansing. If you remain awake during this important time, you miss out on the benefit of this cleansing time of day. In fact, if you are still awake, you may find yourself at the refrigerator, reaching for ice cream or leftover pizza, since the digestive force will go looking for something to digest. Your body will thank you for skipping this, and being asleep instead!
NIGHT: 2 AM - 6 AM VATA
The early morning vata time is not a time of creativity, but rather of receptivity. Yogis discovered long ago that this time of day is the best time of day for meditation and other spiritual practices. By rising before 6 am, you are able to maximize this experience, spending this peaceful time of day in spiritual pursuits. If you are still in bed, you may find that your sleep is light and disturbed, or that you awaken and have a hard time shutting off your mind. Meditation at this time can be a challenge for some, especially if you have a lot of vata in your nature or have a vata imbalance. Utilizing mantra or affirmations can be very helpful for quieting the mind, engage in gentle yoga, or inhale some soothing essential oils such as lavender to calm the mind.
By listening to this rhythm of the 24-hour cycle, you can strive for optimal health, balance, and peace of mind. Give this Ayurvedic clock a chance and share your results with me!